CRB: The Same Old Deal

Last week I pored over the magnificent new (Winter, just in time for Spring) issue of the Claremont Review of Books. The CRB is the flagship publication of the Claremont Institute and my favorite magazine. I want to persuade you to subscribe to it, which you can do here for the ridiculously low, heavily subsidized (don’t feel guilty!) price of $19.95 a year and get immediate online access thrown in to boot.

As has become the custom, our friends at the CRB have let me pick three pieces from the new issue to preview on Power Line. This time around, I sought to select three pieces that would gave a representtative sample of the wealth of riches on offer. Limited to three, I have of necessity passed over many truly outstanding pieces. Please check out the table of contents at the link above.

We lead off our preview with the estimable Bill Voegeli’s lead review/essay “The Same Old Deal.” Voegeli reviews Time-man Michael Grunwald’s The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era. Grunwald’s publisher holds the book out as “a riveting account based on new documents and interviews with over 400 sources on both sides of the aisle…reveal[ing] the vivid story behind President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill, one of the most important and least understood pieces of legislation in the history of the country.” According to Grunwald, the stimulus bill has been unfairly maligned by the like of, well, us.

Grunwald glorifies the Obama administration’s stimulus package as an “overwhelming success,” and argues that the president has thereby proven that big government — big, big government, is perhaps now more apt — can be both effective and efficient. So have no fear, conservatives, the government is here (and there and there and there) and here to help. Lest you worry that Grunwald’s judgment may derive from a certain partiality for big, big government, Grunwald assures us of his discomfort with too much government meddling in the economy.

Voegeli will have none of it. Voegeli merrily skewers Grunwald for purporting “to know more than he can about the future” and decidedly “less than he should about the past.” Voegeli’s review performs an utter demolition, with plenty of textual support. Grunwald’s pretensions to the contrary notwithstanding, Voegeli adjudges the book a “450-page press release from the Democratic National Committee.”

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